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Quebec Nordiques fans wait outside the Videotron Centre before a QMJHL game on Sept. 12, 2015 in Quebec City.Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

Québec politicians are meeting with NHL brass in January, but it’s unclear what influence the government can have on the league or whether team owners have any interest in bringing the Nordiques back to the provincial capital.

Local fans, meanwhile, aren’t holding their breath after a series of disappointments, and they say they aren’t so sure the government’s latest move is anything more than a public-relations stunt.

Premier François Legault opened the door to such musings in November, professing an interest in seeing professional hockey return to Québec City and announcing a senior minister had been tabbed to support the effort.

“I tell myself that if Ottawa and Winnipeg are able to have a team, we should be able to have a team in Québec,” Legault told reporters at the time, adding that his government was looking for partners to help fund the estimated $1-billion cost of a franchise.

The Nordiques left Québec City after the 1994-95 NHL season, relocating to Denver to become the Colorado Avalanche, which won the Stanley Cup in the new team’s first season.

Québec City fans were optimistic about getting an NHL team back a decade ago but are much less so now, says Vince Cauchon, a Québec City sports-radio host who co-founded Nordiques Nation, a booster group that included 100,000 members at its peak. He says the recent news landed with a bit of a thud.

“We were looking for the fire behind the smoke, and it’s a rare case of smoke without fire,” Cauchon said in a recent interview about Legault’s stated ambitions. “If it’s something that was politically motivated to rally the population, it had the effect of a sword cutting through water. The reaction was negligible – even bad.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has confirmed a January meeting with “someone high up” from Québec, but he said he knew nothing about what was on the agenda and tempered any expectations, noting that no teams were looking to relocate and that there were no expansion plans.

A spokeswoman for Finance Minister Eric Girard, Québec’s emissary for the meeting, declined to comment until later, but she said he’s been working on the file since the summer.

About a decade ago, the possible return of NHL hockey had locals salivating at luring a struggling U.S. team back across the border. Fans decked out in Nordiques merchandise bused to different arenas in the United States and even gathered at the Plains of Abraham for a massive rally in October, 2010.

Retired Nordiques winger Alain Côté said he’s pleased the Legault government is pushing for a new team, but he says he has doubts the league will allow it.

“I find it a lot of fun that the premier is putting this forward,” said Côté, a popular winger who now owns auto parts stores in the capital.

“We have a super nice arena here in Québec City – a modern building, so it would be fun to use it for an NHL team,” he said of the Videotron Centre, which opened in 2015.

Côté says he believes a lot has changed since the club left that plays in the city’s favour: an NHL salary cap, a new arena and a loyal fan base.

But what Québec City doesn’t have is the league’s interest. Côté says he thinks the NHL sees Québec City as part of the Montreal market, served by the Canadiens.

“There has to be a will, and I don’t see any from the league – absolutely none,” Côté said.